11 So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.
12 Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’
13 “Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”
14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
I find the communication between Moses and the Lord God to be the most fascinating of all the people in the Bible. The quality of Moses’ speech and attitude changed over time, and he went from being angry and complaining to being graceful and pleading. Early on, Moses generally agreed with God that the children of Israel were a stiff-necked people, and Moses would have just as soon been rid of them. (Exodus 17:4) But after spending more time with the Lord, and becoming familiar with Him–as today’s verses say, “as a man speaks to his friend”–then Moses partook of the grace and mercy of the Lord. He then became Israel’s chief intercessor on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. He was the only one of the Israelites who could approach God without an intermediary, without sacrifices, without a veil between them. Moses, in short, was a friend of God who was unafraid to speak his mind and to seek God’s grace on behalf of others.
I especially like scenes like we see in today’s verses, wherein Moses is in direct communication with the Lord, where he stands with God just as Abraham once did, face to face, man to Man. Later generations of priests and intercessors would always approach the Lord God from a distance, and they would prepare themselves by sacrifices and rituals. But Moses would simply rise in the morning, walk to the edge of the camp, and go into the tabernacle to meet with God. There was no distance between Moses and God, no need for a priest or Levite to prepare the way, no veil to separate the man from his God.
Moses’ prayer in this scene is one of intercession for the nation and people of Israel. The people of Israel had sinned gravely by making and worshiping a golden calf (Exodus 32), and the Lord had told the people that He would not go among them as they went to the Promised Land, lest He consume them for their pride and idolatry. (Exodus 33:3) But Moses won’t accept that. He wants the Lord to stay with His people on the way, to be there as they face trials and warfare, to be their guide and their shield. Moses is essentially saying, “If I myself have found grace in Your sight, then may Your people Israel also share in that grace.”
And the Lord’s response?
So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”
Because Moses had found grace in God’s sight, then so did the people of Israel, for Moses made intercession for them.
James tells us, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16b) We see that demonstrated so well in this scene with Moses. Moses’ grace-filled relationship with God availed much for the people of Israel. God knew Moses by name–i.e. He knew Moses not by title or office, not by his role among the people, but God knew Moses like a friend knows a friend, by name and by heart, by raw communication and unfailing loyalty. And so the Lord listened to Moses and acted on his plea.
When our Savior Jesus died on the Cross, the veil between men and the holy of holies was torn asunder from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:51) The distance between God and man that had existed since Moses, the curtain that shielded us from God’s glory, the need for sacrifice and an intercessor–all of that was now gone. Men can now come to God just as Moses did. We can rise and seek the Lord our God, and He shall know us by name because we have an Intercessor in His Son, someone who already knows us and listens to us. We may not see the glory of the Lord as Moses once did (Exodus 33:18-23), but we can approach God with our own supplications, and we can know that because Jesus has justified us before God, He will listen, forgive us, and act on our prayers. Because of Jesus, all those who are saved have indeed found grace in God’s sight, and we can rest assured that what we pray in Jesus’ name will be heard and answered.
So now it is time to rise up as Moses did and to plead for this nation. It is time to speak to the Lord our God and to ask for His glory to go always before us. We must seek His pardon for the sins of the people and His grace for their blessing. We must ask the Lord to consider this people–a people stiff-necked and rebellious, a people drawn away by their own lusts, a people lost in a spiritual wasteland–and ask Him to come among them as their God. Let us seek God’s presence as never before. Let us say to Him, “If we have found grace in Your sight, show us Your way, that we may know You and that we may find grace in Your sight.” May we pray always that His Presence shall go with us and that He shall give us rest.
Holy Father God, hear my prayer. If I have found grace in Your sight, then consider this land that was founded on Your principles, this nation that once knew the Lord God so well. Consider this people and, please, show them the grace You have shown me. Shower them with Your Spirit, and open their eyes to Your truth. Bless our leaders and lead them in Your way, and may Your Presence always be in this land of the free and home of the brave. Amen.